10 Tragic Royal Deaths That Shook the World
The best known of contemporary history's untimely royal deaths, Diana, Princess of Wales was killed on August 31, 1997, after she was involved in a car accident in the Pont de l'Alma tunnel in Paris. The crash also killed Dodi Al Fayed, the man she was seeing at the time, and the car's inebriated driver, Henri Paul. After Diana was pronounced dead at a French hospital, her ex-husband, Prince Charles, traveled to bring her body home to London. She was 36 years old. There was an outpouring of mourning around the world, with flowers and tributes filling the grounds surrounding her London home, Kensington Palace. Her funeral was attended by 2,000 people and watched by two billion more at home on television.
Fifteen years before Diana's death, another world-famous Princess, Grace of Monaco (also known as Hollywood actress Grace Kelly) died in a car crash at age 52. Grace was driving to Monaco from the family's country home, Roc Agel, with her daughter Princess Stéphanie when she had a minor stroke. The Philadelphia-raised beauty lost control of her car, driving off a 120 foot cliff. She was taken to the hospital, but her injuries were too devastating for her life to be saved. Stéphanie survived, though her own injuries prevented her from attending her mother's funeral.
PRINCE FRISO OF THE NETHERLANDS
The second son of Princess (formerly Queen) Beatrix of the Netherlands died tragically in 2013 after being in coma for more than a year. He fell into the coma after being buried by an avalanche while on a ski vacation in Lech, Austria, in 2012. Taken to a hospital in Innsbruck, the Netherlands Government Information Service gave the prognosis on his condition as "stable, but critical." He suffered brain damage in the accident, was eventually transferred to a London hospital, and then a royal palace at home in the Netherlands, just a month before his August 2013 death. His wife and mother had been with him everyday, but the brain damage he suffered during the accident was irreparable. Friso's death was announced on August 12. He was 44 years old.
KING GEORGE VI
Queen Elizabeth has been on the throne for 65 years — and one of the reasons for her long reign (besides her own long life!) is the premature death of her father, King George VI, at age 56. The stress of World War II had a lasting impact on his health, and he smoked cigarettes for years, developing lung cancer and other health issues, particularly in his arteries. His elder daughter, then Princess Elizabeth, started taking on more and more of his duties as his health deteriorated. Eventually, he died in his sleep from a coronary thrombosis, a block of blood flow to the heart due to a blood clot in one of his arteries.
Though not officially a royal, the freak accident that led to the death of Shand, the younger brother of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, is still worthy of mention. While Shand was in New York City in April 2014, he was celebrating after hosting an auction event for his charity, The Elephant Trust, when he fell and hit his head outside a hotel. His skull was unusually thin and therefore led to his death, according to a report done after his death, reported by The Telegraph. He was 62 years old.
LORD LOUIS MOUNTBATTEN
An uncle of Prince Philip who served as a father figure to Philip's eldest son, Prince Charles, Mountbatten was killed in a terrorist attack while vacationing at Classiebawn Castle in Ireland. On August 27, 1979, he set off to go fishing off the coast of the Atlantic with one of his grandsons, Nicholas Knatchbull, and five others. A member of the Irish Republican Army, Thomas McMahon, had planted a bomb in the boat the night before, which exploded when they were just a few hundred yards from the shore. Mountbatten died shortly after.
PRINCE GUSTAF ALDOF OF SWEDEN
Gustaf Adolf was the father of Sweden's current monarch, King Carl Gustaf. While traveling back to Stockholm on a commercial flight from the Netherlands in 1947, Gustaf Adolf was killed in a freak plane accident. His flight had made a routine stop in Copenhagen, and when the plane took off again for Stockholm it stalled and then dove head-first to the ground, exploding when it made contact. Gustaf Adolf and the other 21 people on board all died. He was 40 years old at the time of his death, and his son, Carl Gustaf, was only nine months old.
PRINCE GEORGE, DUKE OF KENT
The son of King George V and brother of King George VI died at age 39 when the seaplane he was flying in en route to Iceland crashed into the side of a hill in Scotland. The 13 other people on the plane died in the crash as well. He was on the plane as a part of his service with the Royal Air Force, and his death made him the first member of the royal family in 450 years to die during active military service.
PRINCESS MARINA, DUCHESS OF KENT
Though not quite as tragic as the death of her husband Prince George (a.k.a. the Duke of Kent), Marina's own came as quite a shock at age 61. She had first been admitted to the hospital on July 16, 1968, and her death came on August 27. Just hours before she died, Kensington Palace first announced that Marina's condition was "giving rise to anxiety." She died due to an inoperable brain tumor.
PRINCE WILLIAM OF GLOUCESTER
Queen Elizabeth's cousin, Prince William, died when he was 30 years old in a plane accident. William was a licensed pilot who owned several small planes, and as a hobby competed in air shows. It was this hobby that led to his death: In 1972, at the Goodyear International Air Trophy, his plane crashed and was set on fire, killing William and his co-pliot.